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Hello, fellow listeners!

What an October, right? I'm drowning in podcasts, excited about some of the things I heard out in the wilderness at the Austin Film Festival, and nervous about the role I'm playing in the latest episode of How to Listen to Music in the 22nd Century! But most importantly, if you live in the United States and you have the right to vote, remember to vote tomorrow! Or today if you have access to early voting! If you need a ride to the polls, the Vote with Me app is offering a promo code for a free Lyft ride on November 6th (h/t to Rashika for the info and the screenshot):


 
CASTING IT BACK - MINI-REVIEWS

I’m not easy to scare, but my podcatcher spent all of October cowering in fear! Tons of new releases and new seasons dropped in that fateful spooky month, so we’re going to cover some of the highlights here, as well as some ongoing fictions you must be listening to. (If your podcatcher is giving you nightmares, read yesterday’s newsletter issue from Wil Williams for helpful podcast subscription handling tips).

Point Mystic, The Secret of Point Mystic Pt. 2, “Between Worlds” (episode 2.1): Point Mystic’s return is long-desired, and slides in with all the tender, graceful storytelling from Reynaga in an immediate sequel to the first season’s finale. One character breaks her vow of silence, and that story she tells sends chills up and down my spine every time I listen, a powerful performance. This is audio that never gets old or tired; I could relisten to this all the time and find something new to focus on, discover, or think about.

All in My Head, Witness (episode 1.1): Nora’s sleep paralysis is terrifying--if you’ve never experienced sleep paralysis, it can sound a lot like the screaming nightmares exemplified in this first episode of a young woman who tries therapist after therapist seeking a solution. There aren’t jump scares so far, because you know intrinsically that Nora is building up to a scream, but some of the things describes are more than just hallucinations of shadows when you’re half-awake.

Limbo, JULY // DEATH FOR MY BIRTHDAY & AUG // THE SHARP HINT OF NEW TEARS (episode 1.1): From the creator of 2298 and Magic King Dom, comes a limited series audio fiction about death, the afterlife, and eternity. Olivieri made a commitment to focus women on the podcast, and every episode features another woman as a visitor to the main character’s limbo and someone who had an effect on the life. Julia Morizawa’s performance in the second episode brought on the trembling lower lip.

The Amelia Project, Percy Part 2 - World Audio Drama Day Special (episode 12): This was a very welcome surprise episode with some great marketing art. If you’ve been craving a multi-universe crossover that doesn’t make you feel like canon is breaking, the team at Imploding Fictions alongside Girl in Space, Love and Luck, Alba Salix, and Victoriocity have managed that with an ease of writing and humor that kept me along for the entire ride. Most importantly, it’s understandably funny even without prior knowledge of those shows.

The Cryptonaturalist, Sassafras Grove (episode 13): Anderson’s narrative writing continues to be impressively creative in world-building and highlighted by the casual weirdness and curious, surprising humor. Just like in his Twitter presence, some of these lines are beautifully poignant and resonant: “the places most inconvenient to get to are often the ones most worth visiting” spoke to me about more than just geographical places, and the reminder at the end to be kind to ourselves is so necessary in this time. (And that special guest transmission--gold.)

Tides, Star Stuff (mini episode 2): This mini-series isn’t Halloween-spooky, but it is amusing and fun backstory, with some zany and somewhat drunk shenanigans and a kind and focused look at the relationship between Dr. Eurus and Dr. Wang. I’ve wondered about the structure of their friendship for a while, and this historical episode puts a spin on it that I hadn’t expected.

The Bright Sessions, The Bright Sides - Patient #7-B-3 (episode 5.4): This episode came out in early October, but I only just got around to listening, and Eli Barraza's writing and acting in the Bright universe is just as heart-wrenching as it in The Far Meridian.  This is such a good examination of grief, and power, and how to handle complicated thoughts and how they inform our picture of ourselves. Barraza's ability to meld her writing to fit in with whatever universe she's playing in must not be understated: it's amazing. The Bright Sides, so far, has been a roaring success for me.

Duggan Hill, The Drowning Isle, Prologue - The Last Ten Months (episode 2.1): Duggan Hill is a creepy, Canadian podcast and their season two prologue launched on Halloween. The prologue is a collection of recordings occurring all over Vancouver during Zoe’s return in season one. It’s got Duggan Hill’s trademark crystal-clear soundscaping, strange timelines, and at least one highlight terrifying sound effect that made me grimace.

The Phenomenon, Catch and Release (episode 2.1): The season two premiere for The Phenomenon is the lower-key thriller that I think is absolutely necessary to keep momentum going, a break in breath after the teeth-grating finale and getting listeners back on the rollercoaster after a hiatus. I am consistently delighted by the performances in this podcast as well, by the natural and excellent variety in voices and accents, by the strange distant soundscaping, and as ever, by the grotesque sounds of what happens when you encounter whatever is outside.

Limetown, London (episode 2.1): If you thought Limetown wasn’t going to be on this list… this season opener was a madcap ride through a look into the life of the reporter going after the story of Lia Haddock. Littler’s writing and direction excels in the fast-paced nature of this episode, though that might be a side effect of my level of tension throughout the whole thing. Anticipation is a heady thing, and Limetown has done a solid job of capitalizing on that and re-asking the questions before answering them.

CASTING LIGHT

We’re hip-deep in the winter convention season! I’ve recently returned from the podcast track at the Austin Film Festival, Vancouver is gearing up to have their first festival in a few days, and several cities are gearing up for their own podcast festivals like Portland, Chicago, and DC. PodCon is in a few months and I don’t know about you, but I’m counting down to when I can see all my podcast friends again. A bunch of audio fiction creators -- Gabriel Urbina, Sarah Shachat, Jeff Van Dreason, Alexander Danner, and Meghan Fitzmartin were on a panel at Rhode Island Comic Con about audio fiction storytelling!

I think we’re all seeing the sudden rise of podcast-focused conventions and festivals in the past couple of years (like many conventions, some which are successful and some that aren’t). It’s hard to keep track of which ones to go to sometimes, and with the similarly rising costs, it’s hard for independent creators, often the ones with the most need to go to these events, find it hard to be able to go to any.

Even more than that, as audio fiction creators, it can be hard to justify going to any one convention if it doesn’t have anything directly related to that work, work that is very different in conception and execution than even other scripted nonfiction podcasts. A panel on sound design might be helpful, or a panel on handling finances or budgeting, but it can feel isolating or dispiriting when no other panelist or attendee is right there with you. I’ve lost count of how many stories I’ve heard from podcasters going to conventions and festivals and getting brushed off by fellow attendees and garnering confused looks from panelists when they said they create fiction podcasts.

But if we take a step back and look at the big picture of growth -- a panel here, a podcast track there, a rallying cry somewhere  -- at the way that a ton of big money spenders are making audio fiction, and at the increase in adaptations being pulled from audio fiction, I think we’re seeing all the pieces falling into place for fiction in podcasting to start being taken as a far more serious endeavor than it has been. I don’t think, however, that independent creators can just wait for the rest of the world to catch up with them, because they then run the risk of being subsumed.

What does that mean?

Show up. If you can go to a single relevant panel, or a talk, or even a local podcast meet-up, and just talk honestly about yourself and your work, that’s changing people’s minds. If you get invited to talk, remember Amanda McLoughlin’s video; get yourself paid. For every naysayer, there will be someone at least curious about what your work entails, and that might mean a new listener. As we see audio fiction panels pop up within larger events, like a comic con, or an entire track dedicated to scripted fiction podcasting, like at the Austin Film Festival, we’ll see more creators, more listeners, and more industry support.

Don’t forget that there are other types of events that are helpful to audio fiction--panels on sound design or recording, conversations that include people from fiction-producing companies, workshops on creating great audio storytelling even if they aren’t thinking of fiction. Be open-minded and broad about what is a tool in your creative arsenal; just because it’s fiction, doesn’t mean the business part of podcasting doesn’t exist anymore.

Podcasting’s reach is still very much based on word of mouth and trust. People trust their favorite podcasters, so if they recommend a show in their end credits or on a panel, listeners are more likely to check it out. People trust their close friends, so send them a link to something you think they’ll love and say so. Use grassroots style campaigns to everyone’s advantage, and stay positive.

What conventions or festival are you looking forward to? What sorts of panels or events would be useful to you as a creator or aspiring podcaster? Conventions and the like are often fairly exclusive to indie podcasters, who are not exactly raking in the dough, nor accessible for marginalized persons who may face a variety of barriers beyond financial ones. What sorts of local events could you help foster, or go to? How could you help be a voice for the people who could not go the event you’re at?

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS
Alba Salix returns to great acclaim
10 diverse indie horror podcasts
If you want to see more reviews, interviews, and other articles from me, you can support me over at my ko-fi account!
Ko-Fi Support
NEWS CLIPPINGS!

Tides is raising money for their second season on IndieGoGo, which ends tonight!
The Forest Guide audio fiction campaign has two days left in its crowdfunding campaign for a miniseries.
RECOMMENDED READING
I co-wrote an article on the podcast awards landscape after iHeartRadio announced their "first podcast awards". We get a little salty in it, because a lot of what's happening there is a trainwreck.

Wil Williams' post on audience engagement for podcasts resonates with me, every time she talks about it, and is a good pairing for what we're discussing in this issue.

Yet another excellent pairing is the next installment to Sean Howard's Patreon series, on the 1-in-1000 rule to help set realistic expectations for indie podcasters.
BY THE WAY,

I hope your week has started off positively. Keep those spirits up however you can, and do something nice for yourself.

If you'd like to ask me questions or comments, you can reply to this newsletter (it goes directly to my email!) or reach out to me on Twitter.

Happy listening,
Ely
Logo, of a pair of headphones with a pen laying across them.
Copyright © 2018 Audio Dramatic, All rights reserved.


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